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Well that was fast. In less than 48 hours, a (leaked) promotional photo of the cast from the upcoming X-Men: First Class circulated around the Web, met with negative outcry from most fanboys (who let’s face it, are rarely satisfied). 20th Century Fox has since released an updated version of the pic as well as new production stills (see below) and Matthew Vaughn has (vocally) commenced damage control, in an attempt to calm the masses down.
Vaughn spoke to Slash Film about the leaked photo, stating “it’s not a pre-approved image. When I found out, I said, what the fuck is this shit…it’s like a bad photoshop…it didn’t reflect the movie.” In an attempt to assure the fans of his best intentions: “I’m a fan of X-Men. We’re not bastardizing X-Men, I’m trying to get them back to being whole again.”
As outlined in another interview of Vaughn’s (via the LA Times), the project is coming down to the wire with reshoots currently underway and a release date set for June 3. “First Class” faces some stiff competition this summer in the superhero genre, with Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor and rival company DC’s Green Lantern, all set to premiere this summer, and all facing skepticism from a film-going public inundated with (less than excellent) superhero films.
When asked about the other films “First Class” will be heading up against, Vaughn replies, “with Green Lantern I don’t know about that one, I couldn’t get my head around the trailer, to be honest…look, I will say the following: ‘X-Men’ as a brand is bigger than Captain America, Thor and…Green Lantern, all put together.” And he’s right, with the previous “X-Men” films banking an overall total of $1.53 billion in worldwide sales.
The bottom line that Fox and Vaughn are hoping to take away is that they have the best intentions at heart to get the “X-Men” film franchise back on the right path, after the financially successful but poorly received X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Still, the events of the past few days lend to the argument that there is no such thing as bad press. An overdone “leaked” photo of the cast, massive response and quick turn around on behalf of the studio and filmmakers at a time when one of the biggest movie news stories of the year breaks; that story being casting in DC’s The Dark Knight Rises, in case you were dead the last few days. While the news regarding “First Class” may not get the top prize for “Buzz of the Week,” the strategy has kept the project alive in the media, looking to build positive hype for the summer release because let’s face it: they’re going to need it, established franchise or not.